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Plasticity of the MFS1 Promoter Leads to Multidrug Resistance in the Wheat Pathogen Zymoseptoria tritici

Abstract : The ascomycete Zymoseptoria tritici is the causal agent of Septoria leaf blotch on wheat. Disease control relies mainly on resistant wheat cultivars and on fungicide applications. The fungus displays a high potential to circumvent both methods. Resistance against all unisite fungicides has been observed over decades. A different type of resistance has emerged among wild populations with multidrug-resistant (MDR) strains. Active fungicide efflux through overexpression of the major facilitator gene MFS1 explains this emerging resistance mechanism. Applying a bulk-progeny sequencing approach, we identified in this study a 519-bp long terminal repeat (LTR) insert in the MFS1 promoter, a relic of a retrotransposon cosegregating with the MDR phenotype. Through gene replacement, we show the insert as a mutation responsible for MFS1 overexpression and the MDR phenotype. Besides this type I insert, we found two different types of promoter inserts in more recent MDR strains. Type I and type II inserts harbor potential transcription factor binding sites, but not the type III insert. Interestingly, all three inserts correspond to repeated elements present at different genomic locations in either IPO323 or other Z. tritici strains. These results underline the plasticity of repeated elements leading to fungicide resistance in Z. tritici and which contribute to its adaptive potential. IMPORTANCE Disease control through fungicides remains an important means to protect crops from fungal diseases and to secure the harvest. Plant-pathogenic fungi, especially Zymoseptoria tritici, have developed resistance against most currently used active ingredients, reducing or abolishing their efficacy. While target site modification is the most common resistance mechanism against single modes of action, active efflux of multiple drugs is an emerging phenomenon in fungal populations reducing additionally fungicides' efficacy in multidrug-resistant strains. We have investigated the mutations responsible for increased drug efflux in Z. tritici field strains. Our study reveals that three different insertions of repeated elements in the same promoter lead to multidrug resistance in Z. tritici. The target gene encodes the membrane transporter MFS1 responsible for drug efflux, with the promoter inserts inducing its overexpression. These results underline the plasticity of repeated elements leading to fungicide resistance in Z. tritici.
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Selim Omrane, Colette Audeon, Amandine Ignace, Clémentine Duplaix, Lamia Aouini, et al.. Plasticity of the MFS1 Promoter Leads to Multidrug Resistance in the Wheat Pathogen Zymoseptoria tritici. MSphere, American Society for Microbiology., 2017, 2 (5), ⟨10.1128/mSphere.00393-17⟩. ⟨hal-02627374⟩

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